Why are my peonies not blooming? 5 problems and solutions to try

Peonies not blooming? Our advice will help you fix this common problem and enjoy these fabulous flowers again

pink peonies
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Are you concerned about your peonies not blooming? A lack of these spectacular flowers can be a cause for disappointment, but don't give up on them just yet.

The problem is more common than you might think. And the good news is, there are some simple tips to try to remedy it and get those beautiful blooms back for many summers to come. 

So, whether you've recently learned how to grow peonies and want the best chance at getting them to flower or are scratching your head over an old perennial that just hasn't lived up to expectations, we're here to help. After all, they are one of the most show-stopping blooms out there, so you won't want to miss out.

white peony flowers

Peony flowers are simply stunning

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5 potential reasons behind peonies not blooming and how to fix them

Whether you're growing your peonies in containers or as part of your flower bed ideas, these tips will help you get plenty of those colorful, blousy blooms we all know and love.

1. Inclement weather over spring

If your peony is producing buds that rot before they flower, abnormal springtime weather could be to blame. This could be hard frosts, for instance, or a mix of cold, heavy showers and drought.

John Negus, a gardening expert from Amateur Gardening, suggests helping your plants flower better next year by feeding them with 1oz (28g) per square meter of sulfate of potash. Sprinkle it over the root area in early summer and repeat monthly until the start of fall. Next year, start in mid-spring and continue until fall.

'Potassium helps to toughen tissues and makes them more resistant to adverse weather,' he explains.

Next spring, if inclement weather occurs again, it's a good idea to protect your plants against frost and hard rain with horticultural fleece or something similar.

pink peony

Late frosts can prevent peonies from flowering

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2.  Planting your peonies in the shade

'Most herbaceous peonies flower best in full sun,' says John Negus. So, if you've noticed a distinct lack of blooms, it might be time to move your plants elsewhere.

The RHS (opens in new tab) suggests moving the plants in autumn to a more suitable position. Bear in mind that it can take a couple of years for the plants to then re-establish and start flowering again.

Fill up the gap where they originally were with shade-loving plants – there are tons of gorgeous types to choose from.

pink bicolored peonies

Plant your peonies in sun for the best blooms

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3. Container problems

Love the idea of growing peonies as part of your container gardening ideas? It can be done, but proceed with caution – this approach can result in peonies not blooming.

'Peonies can be grown in containers, but they are much happier in a bed or border,' says John. Most varieties develop large root systems, he explains, so unless you set them in very large pots, they quickly become pot bound. This can result in fewer flowers as the plants will have trouble absorbing nutrients and water properly. And as mentioned, peonies take a while to re-establish when transplanted, so potting on can further prolong a lack of blooms.

'However, herbaceous varieties (double pink 'Sarah Bernhardt', scarlet P. peregrina, and anemone-centered deep pink and white 'Magic Orb' among them) are eligible for growing in containers,' he says. 

The best thing to do is to check the label when you buy your peony to ensure it's suitable for a pot, give it plenty of room, and remember to keep it watered (without overdoing it).

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt'

Peony 'Sarah Bernhardt' is a good pick for pots

(Image credit: Trevor Chriss/Alamy Stock Photo)

4. Incorrect watering

Watering plants incorrectly can cause all kinds of damage – a lack of flowers included. So, if you're struggling with your peonies not blooming, it might be worth rethinking your watering routine.

The RHS explains that established peony plants are drought-tolerant – to a point. Prolonged dry spells in spring can result in poor flower bud development or them failing to open.

They suggest mulching around the base of the plant to help retain moisture, and remembering to water during periods of particularly dry weather. However, be careful not to allow the soil to become waterlogged which can also have detrimental effects.

pink peonies

Too much or too little water can prevent peonies from blooming

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5. Planting your peonies too deeply

'A common reason for lack of flowers in peonies is planting too deeply,' says the Amateur Gardening experts. 'The buds emerging from the crown should be just below the soil surface. Remember this when applying a layer of mulch and do not cover the crown of peonies.'

The RHS agrees, explaining that if you are to replant your peony, ensure there is no more than one inch (2.5cm) of soil over the top of the buds.

peony growing

Avoid covering up the crown of your peony plant

(Image credit: Kikkia Jackson/Alamy Stock Photo)
Holly Crossley
Holly Crossley

The garden was always a big part of Holly's life growing up, as was the surrounding New Forest where she lived. Her appreciation for the great outdoors has only grown since then. She's been an allotment keeper, a professional gardener, and a botanical illustrator – plants are her passion.